I’ve written a lot about postpartum health care, but I’ve never really focused on fertility before. I think that there are a lot of factors involved in conceiving a child so it would be hard to get it all into one post. So I will write as much as I know. I know that this topic can be touchy, but I want people to realize that there are steps you can take before going to more expensive options like IVF. It is much better to address nutritional issues before getting pregnant because the postpartum period can be very hard otherwise.
Herbs that help conception
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf has been used for thousands of years as a tonic for women. RRL helps to strengthen the uterus and pelvic muscles which helps to make labor shorter and easier.
This herb is packed with nutrients: magnesium, manganese, iron, vitamin C, b-vitamins and potassium. RRL is an amazing remedy for PMS, endometriosis, and it helps balance hormones. This herb is especially helpful for women trying to conceive as it is a very popular remedy for infertility.
Red Clover infusions are best known for aiding fertility and preventing breast cancer. This particular herb is one of the richest sources of isoflavones (phytoestrogens) and it is much safer and effective than soy for the purpose of breast health.
Red clover is full of calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C as well as protein and trace minerals.
Also, red clover is most effective at hormonal balancing in women. Using the infusions regularly for several months-1 year you can improve your chances of conceiving a child immensely. It also will help hot flashes, PMS, breast pain/lumps, improve kidney health, improve bile flow, reduce blood clot risk, balance cholesterol, and can prevent osteoporosis.
(read my whole post on herbal infusions here, includes directions!)
Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry)
Vitex is probably one of the most popular herbs for regulating female hormones. It helps those with endometriosis, stimulates the pituitary gland to function properly, stimulates progesterone function, and it is a uterine tonic. Vitex helps women heal quickly after they discontinue birth control pills because of how it regulates hormones efficiently. It aids in fertility because it helps to stabilize ovulation. Most of the stories I’ve read about vitex claim that within 3 months of starting it, the woman was able to conceive.
**A great resource for learning more about herbs and pregnancy is “Wise Woman Herbal: Childbearing Year” by Susun Weed. She has a side note in this book claiming that 50% of infertility is due to weak sperm, 35% due to blocked tubes, and 15% due to other reasons. It is not just up to the woman to get pregnant- the men have to be healthy too!**
Being well-nourished is essential for getting and staying pregnant. Our bodies need vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fat, protein, carbs, etc to run correctly. After a lifetime of the Standard American Diet, most women (and men!) are lacking in many nutrients. Even if they manage to get pregnant and have a child, they find that they are very weak postpartum because the child steals what little nutrients they had left.
How do we nourish ourselves?
- Nutrient Dense Foods- Fruits, vegetables; full fat foods like butter, ghee, and coconut oil; organic/grass-fed whole milk dairy products; fermented foods; eggs; grass-fed meat; beef liver every so often if you can handle it! I have read MANY stories about women getting pregnant after they starting eating more fats after a lifetime of The WAPF has a great basis for a real foods diet
- Herbal Infusions– Nettles and Red Raspberry leaf are the 2 best herbs fro pregnancy and nursing. Nettle infusions are full of vitamin K, iron, copper, magnesium and calcium, and they help the kidneys, liver, and adrenals. Red Raspberry leaf is a well-known uterine tonic and helps to keep hormones balanced, especially after birth.
- Focus on Gut Health– we need sufficient stomach acid and bile to digest a lot of our nutrients and to take care of nasty things like bacteria and parasites. Using either a probiotic or eating fermented foods is essential as well. Constipation is extremely common while pregnant or breastfeeding so we have to try and keep things moving!
- Stay Hydrated! Try to drink as much filtered or spring water as you want, as well as herbal infusions. Depending on your personal needs you may be able to use Salt water Sole and coconut water as well, to help sodium and potassium balance.
Minerals and Vitamins
The most important vitamins and minerals needed for conception include copper, zinc, vitamin A, calcium and magnesium.
This will be the number one nutrient issue involved in infertility because it includes copper, zinc, vitamin A as well as liver and adrenal health. Copper is related to estrogen, and zinc is related to testosterone and progesterone. We need the proper balance between these 2 nutrients in order to have balanced hormones, and we need strong adrenals to handle a pregnancy. If you haven’t read my post on Copper Dysregulation, please do so. It will tell you basically everything you need to know about copper and how to truly treat it!
Magnesium is another extremely important nutrient for fertility. It is one of the most prevalent deficiencies in developed countries because not only are our soils depleted of it, we tend to lose magnesium under stress and with excess sugar consumption. SAD sets us up for a HUGE magnesium deficit, as well as excess calcium levels. Both mag and calcium are extremely important nutrients but they need to be in balance! You can read my whole post on Magnesium here– it has recommendations for food sources and supplements!
Magnesium deficiency signs include PMS, menstrual cramps, endometriosis, PCOS, diabetes, muscle pain, constipation, anxiety and depression. Mag deficiency is also involved in SIDS, pre-eclampsia, and failure to thrive in children. Magnesium has a relationship with calcium, sodium and potassium. These 4 minerals need to be properly balanced and there is a quite a dance involved when all 4 of these minerals are not in range. This is where HTMA can truly be helpful in order to balance all of your minerals so your body can start to function properly!
My experience with magnesium was nothing short of miraculous. The first month I started it all of my muscle pain was gone (I had fibromyalgia), and I no longer had menstrual cramps (where as my whole life I had dealt with at least a day of severe pain during each cycle). My cycle became normal for the first time in my life. I had been told by several doctors that I would never have children, but after 4 months on magnesium I became pregnant on the first try!
You can read more about magnesium and fertility here:
Do you have any other fertility tips? Please let us know in the comments!